January 26, 2010
By 2020, the American Heart Association (AHA) wants to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent, while reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent. As part of their new national goal, the AHA wants to help people identify and adopt healthier lifestyle habits, and the group has developed a seven-point checklist to assess whether a person is in poor, intermediate or ideal cardiovascular health.
Results of a recent AHA survey indicate that 39 percent of Americans think they have ideal cardiovascular health; however, 54 percent of those who took the survey said that a health professional had told them they had at least one risk factor for heart disease and/or needed to initiate a lifestyle change to improve their heart health. This means that many people don’t make a connection between certain lifestyle practices (risk factors) and the development of cardiovascular disease.
In response to the survey results, the AHA published a scientific statement in the January 20, 2010, issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. In the statement, the AHA describes seven lifestyle behaviors/health factors that represent the ideal lifestyle habits for cardiovascular health. The seven health measures, which the AHA calls “Life’s Simple 7,” are as follows:
- Never smoked or quit smoking more than one year ago
- Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 25
- Physically active at a moderate intensity at least 150 minutes per week; if vigorous intensity, 75 minutes per week
- Four of five key components of a healthy diet as recommended by the AHA (e.g., eating more fruits and vegetable)
- Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL
- Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg
- Fasting blood glucose less than 100 mg/dL